“Casa El Pisto” – Taberna San Miguel, Córdoba, Spain

Don’t miss Córdoba on a trip to Andalusia, Spain. Its old town is the largest urban area in the world declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. But it’s walkable, with charming narrow streets and paths, like this one:

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

On Plaza San Miguel, next to the 13th century San Miguel church, is a famous restaurant that dates back to 1880, Taberna San Miguel, also known by the popular name “Casa El Pisto” (pisto is a Spanish dish like ratatouille, with eggplant or zucchini , tomatoes, onions, and peppers).

 

photo by CasaElPisto.com

photo by CasaElPisto.com

 

photo by Dean Curtis

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

Many famous Spaniards have been regular customers at Casa El Pisto over the years, including the bullfighter Manolete. A section of the restaurant has a memorial to him.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

“The camel is an animal that doesn’t drink, don’t be a camel!” – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

The bar and beautifully tiled dining rooms are filled with historical artifacts: artworks, photographs, and documents. I dined in the courtyard, which had tiles with humorous inscriptions on them.

 

courtyard - photo by www.theaustralian.com.au

courtyard – photo by www.theaustralian.com.au

 

One of the specialties in Córdoba is salmorejo, a thick, chilled type of gazpacho made with tomatoes, bread, olive oil, and seasonings, and topped with ham and/or hard-boiled eggs. The version at San Miguel is excellent.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

I used lots of bread to wipe the bowl clean. Bread from San Francisco?

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

Casa El Pisto’s menu includes other regional specialties such as rabo de toro (bull’s tail), pisto (ratatouille), manitas de cerdo (Pig’s trotters), and carrillada ibérica al vino viejo (Iberian pork cheeks cooked in wine). I had the rabo de toro, which was very tender and flavorful.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

I love their business card designs!

 

Casa El Pisto card 1Casa El Pisto card 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset on the Guadalquivir River at the end of my wonderful day in Córdoba – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

 

Casa El Pisto – Taberna San Miguel
Plaza de San Miguel, 1, 14002 Córdoba, Spain
phone +34 957 47 01 66
Open Mon-Sat 12:00pm – 4:00pm, 8:00pm – 12:00am, closed Sunday

 

Don Arturo, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

I’ve been to South Florida many times and had a lot of Cuban food there. I’ve tried Cuban food in California (Southern and Northern) and it just doesn’t come close. So if you’re going to Florida, trying Cuban food should be on the top of your list. Miami has some famous Cuban restaurants that serve good food, but my favorite Cuban restaurant in Florida is in Fort Lauderdale.

 

photo by insidefortlauderdale.com

photo by insidefortlauderdale.com

 

Don Arturo Restaurant opened in 1970 and the decor is 1960s American-Spanish (or Conquistador), with artworks of Spanish explorers and bullfighters, shields, wine barrels, trellises of ivy, hanging plants, and original colonial style furniture.

 

photo by insidefortlauderdale.com

photo by insidefortlauderdale.com

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2011

photo by Dean Curtis, 2011

 

The restaurant’s menu has both Spanish and Cuban dishes, but I’ve always ordered from the Cuban section. They make a juicy and tender ropa vieja – stewed, shredded beef, which I’ve ordered on more than one visit. Pork dishes are also good choices, such as lechon asado – roast shredded pork (see photo), masas de puerco – pork chunks that reminded me of carnitas (tender chunks of pork refried to form a crust on the outside), pork filet, and pork chops. They also offer four different steaks, some chicken dishes, and several shrimp and fish dishes. Prices are reasonable, especially the lunch combination plates that range from $6.95 to $13.95 (the dinner menu is à la carte).

 

ropa vieja with maduros (sweet plantains) and black beans - photo by Dean Curtis, 2011

roast pork with maduros (sweet plantains) and black beans – photo by Dean Curtis, 2011

 

Here’s an example of how some people just don’t get the appeal of classic eateries with vintage decor that Le Continental appreciates (a review of Don Arturo from New Times of Broward/Palm Beach):

Nestled in a cinder-block building, Don Arturo is dark. Gothic chandeliers emit flat light, while red velvet curtains blanket windows. Plaques pepper wood paneling with medieval fighters in full regalia. The cobwebs-meet-garage-sale-décor is depressing. Too much space in between empty tables exacerbates our isolation. We drink with gusto to shift the imposing mood.

“Flat light”? What is that? “Depressing”? I don’t feel that way at all at Don Arturo! That review was depressing! And I like dark restaurants (though it’s not really very dark there): they are a soothing escape from the outside hustle and bustle. Bright restaurants often feel harsh to me.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2011

photo by Dean Curtis, 2011

 

Don Arturo
1198 SW 27th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
(954) 584-7966
Open Mon-Sat 11:00am – 9:00pm, Sun 5:00pm – 9:30pm

 

 

Taberna Antonio Sanchez, Madrid, Spain

This gorgeous bullfighter’s tavern opened in 1830 and was purchased in 1884 by Antonio Sanchez Ruiz, who renamed it after his bullfighter son, Antonio Sanchez, who retired from bullfighting in 1922 after being seriously injured.

 

photo by Rafa Gallegos on Flickr

photo by Rafa Gallegos on Flickr

 

The decor is mostly original from 1884, including the beautiful zinc bar and carved wood bar, tiles, lamps, antique cash register, and clock.

 

bar - photo by the fork.com

bar – photo by the fork.com

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I only had a tapa (complimentary) with a glass of wine there during my Madrid tapeo (tapas bar crawl), but they offer a full menu including specialties from the original recipes such as Cocido Madrileño (a famous local stew), Rabo de Toro (bull’s tail), Olla Gitana or Gypsy Pot (vegetable soup), Callos a la Madrileña (tripe stew), caracoles (snails), and torrijas. The prices are reasonable, with average cost of a starter and main course at 19€ and a set lunch Mon-Fri with starter, main, dessert, and drink for only 9.60€.

 

photo by the fork.com

photo by the fork.com

 

photo by the fork.com

photo by the fork.com

 

 

Taberna Antonio Sanchez
Calle del Mesón de Paredes, 13, 28013 Madrid, Spain
Phone: +34 915 39 78 26
Open Mon-Sat 12:00pm-4:00pm, 8:00pm-12:00am, Sun 12:00pm-4:30pm

 

Capp’s Corner, San Francisco, California

Recently I heard a rumor on Facebook that one of the oldest Italian restaurants in North Beach, Capp’s Corner, is going to close on March 17th. I searched for more info and found out they simply can’t afford to stay in business after a huge rent increase. San Francisco, this is starting to get real old. Soon, I fear, much of the old charm in one of the most well-loved cities in the country will be gone, thanks to greedy landlords. I’m hoping Capp’s Corner can survive, but in any case I urge you to visit real soon.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

Capp’s Corner was opened by Joe Capp (Caporale), a San Francisco native, boxing promoter, and bookie, and Frank Sarubei in 1963 on the corner of Green and Powell Streets. Joe tended bar and greeted customers at the door in his trademark fedora hat, black suit and tie, smoking his cigar. In the 1960s a dinner at Capp’s, served family style with soup, salad, bread, vegetable, and pasta, cost around $5. In the 1980s the restaurant was purchased by the current owner, Tom Ginella. Joe Capp passed away in 1996.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

When you enter Capp’s you see the large carved-wood back bar, which appears to be over 100 years old (the restaurant was a Basque place before 1963). They still use the old manual cash registers at the bar.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

The dining room is decorated with simple wooden furniture, checked table coverings, the original linoleum flooring, and many framed works of art and photographs on the walls, making for an interesting browse before or after your meal.

 

linguine with clams and mussels - photo by sptsb.com

linguine with clams and mussels – photo by sptsb.com

 

The dinners are served “family style” with a good, thick, house made minestrone soup, a green salad with house made creamy Italian dressing, and French bread (soup or salad at lunchtime). The menu includes several pasta dishes, which come with soup and salad, and many heartier entrees, which come with soup, salad, pasta marinara, and vegetables. The linguine with clams and mussels is very well-regarded (Lawrence Ferlinghetti, owner of City Lights bookstore, is a fan). Also popular are chicken parmigiana, petrale sole, leg of lamb, osso buco, and the NY steak, which a friend ordered on my recent visit. I was impressed by the flavor and size of the steak (only $25 with all the extras is a true steak bargain). I had the osso buco, which was very tender and served with plenty of delicious sauce. And you can bet that I’ll be going back soon for a steak or some pasta with clams and mussels!

 

Capp’s Corner
1600 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 989-2589
Open for Lunch Sun, Mon, Wed-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, Sat 11:30am-4:00pm
Dinner served Mon, Wed, Thur 4:30pm-10:00pm, Fri 4:30pm-10:30pm, Sat 4:00pm-10:30pm, Sun 2:30pm-10:00pm
Bar is open Mon 11:00am-10:00pm, Wed-Sun 11:30am-2:00am
Closed Tuesdays

 

 

 

Scoma’s, San Francisco, California

This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of my favorite seafood restaurants in San Francisco. I also love Tadich Grill, Sam’s Grill, and others, but for the most consistently fresh and well-prepared seafood, Scoma’s has been my place since I heard about it from “Gentleman” Jim Lange, long time Bay Area radio DJ and host of Dating Game, who in the 90s was on the wonderful “easy listening” pop and big band AM radio station KABL. Back then I drove a ’68 VW Fastback with the original AM radio and it was so nice to have an AM station with good 1940s/50s/60s music instead of talk or news. Sadly, the station, which started back in 1959, changed formats to “soft rock” (an oxymoron, right?) in 2000, but listeners complained so they went back to pop, only to gradually mix in more and more 70s and 80s soft rock until it eventually quit in 2004 (it came back as an online only station in 2007).

 

photo by Michael Seratt on Flickr.com

photo by Michael Seratt on Flickr.com

 

Scoma's in Alameda

Scoma’s in Alameda

Scoma’s opened in 1965 when Al Scoma, one of the partners at Castangola’s on Fisherman’s Wharf, and his brother Joe bought a small 6-stool lunch counter on pier 47. They eventually expanded it into a large mutli-room restaurant that can now seat 350 people. In 1969 Al and Joe partnered with Victor and Rolando Gotti of Ernie’s restaurant in San Francisco to open the still-open Scoma’s Sausalito in a Victorian building that’s on the National Register of Historic Sites. In 1974 Joe Scoma left to open Joe Scoma’s in Emeryville (closed). There was even a Scoma’s in Alameda at one time (at the foot of Sherman Street before the Marina Village development was built).

In 2002 the city named the street the original Scoma’s is on ‘Al Scoma Way’ – that’s how much of a local institution it is. It’s almost always busy – in 2012 alone they served 450,000 diners – and it’s still owned by the Scoma extended family. In 2015, their 50th year, they plan “a few upgrades to the restaurant’s bar and dining room, though nothing major will change”, so I urge you to visit very soon to see it before anything changes (and to get some Dungeness crab while you still can).

 

photo by Erik Rasmussen on Flickr.com

photo by Erik Rasmussen on Flickr.com

 

Scoma’s has their own 46-foot fishing boat, which leaves early every morning to catch the freshest seafood off the coast, from salmon to Dungeness crab when it’s in season (generally Nov-Mar). Next to the dock is a fish processing station that has windows so people waiting for a table can look at the fresh fish being prepared for cooking. Scoma’s is a partner with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, so you can count on the freshest seafood, local when possible, and always sustainable (though it never hurts to ask your waiter for details on anything on the menu).

 

photo by  Kevlar Shea Adams on Flickr.com

photo by Kevlar Shea Adams on Flickr.com

 

The restaurant has multiple levels, but every visit except one (when I was seated on the second floor in the rear building) I’ve been seated in the main first floor dining room overlooking the wharf (as seen in the photo above). The walls are wood-paneled with paintings of a nautical theme, but mostly it’s about the lovely views of Fisherman’s Wharf (next to the restaurant). There are some photos of celebrities and sports figures on some of the walls to the right of the host stand as you enter the restaurant, so take a look around while waiting.

 

Inside view:

 

 

scomas

 

The menu at Scoma’s is long, but some of their specialties are helpfully presented as Scoma’s Classics: shrimp and scallops alla Gannon, “Lazy Man’s” Cioppino (an excellent easier-to-eat cioppino with shelled crab meat), crab or shrimp Louis, mixed seafood grill featuring the day’s fresh catches, and shellfish sauté sec (mmm, I’m getting hungry). When it’s in season, I often get the garlic-roasted Dungeness crab. Other local specialties include petrale sole doré and grilled sand dabs, and they have classic lobster Newburg and Thermidor (at reasonable prices). I highly recommend halibut when it’s available. Each time I’ve had it at Scoma’s it’s been tender, juicy, and succulent, not dry and overcooked like I’ve had in some other restaurants. Meat lovers can get steak, ribs, or a hamburger.

 

s_ca_san_fran_scoma_613823

To get to Scoma’s find your way to the corner of Jefferson and Jones and head down the pier (Al Scoma Way). Valet parking is complimentary.

 

Scoma’s
Al Scoma Way
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 771-4383
Open daily 11:30am – 10:30pm